Interview: Stan's Director of Content talks up local drama investments
It’s an exciting time in Australian TV. With the arrival of streaming services such as Stan, Presto and Netflix, together with Pay TV’s Foxtel, the Aussie TV viewer is becoming spoilt for choice.
We’re being treated to the very best in overseas productions ‘on demand’. Gone are the days of having to wait an eternity for the latest shows from the US or new episodes of audience favourites.
Local production has also entered a Renaissance with rich offerings such as Devil’s Playground, Glitch, Deadline Gallipoli, The Boy from Oz to name but a few.
The commercial networks are also investing in ‘home grown’ shows such as 800 Word and Love Child, but are increasingly being overtaken by the new players.
Earlier this year, subscription video on demand provider Stan announced it would commission new Australian content exclusive for its platform. Its first offering is a 6x30 minute comedy series, No Activity.
Boasting a cast that includes Patrick Brammall, Darren Gilshenan and Kat Stewart, this mostly improvised show about a pair of detectives on a stakeout is slated to air later in the month.
It was pitched to Stan Director of Content and Product Nick Forward by the Jungleboys team.
“The premise is pretty simple actually. It’s a big police story focussing on the bits where nothing happens. We knew what the Jungleboys guys had done before, and I’m a real fan of all of their work, so it was a pretty easy decision to make. It also helped that a fantastic line up of talent came along with it”.
“This really is a show that I don’t think you could imagine any of the networks making. In fact, I don’t think there’s been a comedy coming out of the commercial networks for quite some time”.
Stan has promised a definite Australian ‘voice’ with plans to commission more local content. On the drawing board is a TV series based on the Wolf Creek movie.
“That’ll be a drama. A big and shiny drama. Once that goes ahead, we’ll start to look at what we’ll make next year. There’s a real opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves by making content that doesn’t need to feel quite as ‘broad’.
It can be very targeted. It can be a little edgier and it can be a bit more interesting in the way the narratives develop and flow.
With VSOD and ‘binge watching’ you can go with something more complicated that becomes more cinematic: a film that’s told over six parts as opposed to episodic television”.
While more local content is planned, Stan is also buying more quality programming from overseas including Better Call Saul, Transparent, the new Sherlock, Ash versus Evil Dead and I, Zombie.
“There’s no shortage of great telly in the world so there’s no excuse for putting bad telly up. When it comes to something like Better Call Saul, you buy it because .. .. well, why wouldn’t you?
It’s an amazing job, actually, to buy content for SVOD service at the moment. It’s not complicated. You look for what’s ‘great’ more than just what’s ‘popular’ at the moment.
When you’ve got a catalogue of 10-thousands hours, you have something ‘great’ for everyone, instead of one thing that everyone ‘kind of’ likes."
Stan has been ‘on-air’ now since February and says its ‘more than happy’ with where it’s at, running well ahead of subscription and budget forecasts. It’s had 400,000 sign ups and is hanging onto the vast majority of them.
With plans to buy more quality content and potentially partner up with overseas production houses to create more Australian shows, the future is looking bright for Stan.